12 signs someone is keeping you at arm’s length (and what to do about it)

Do you think someone is acting more distant towards you? Pulling away? Withdrawing themselves?

It can be tough to figure out if someone is intentionally keeping you at arm’s length, or if it’s just their personality.

After all, sometimes your mind can jump to conclusions.

If you’re not sure where the other person stands, check for these signs that someone is keeping you at arm’s length:

1. They can’t seem to laugh at your jokes

When we want a romantic relationship with someone, or we want someone to like us as a friend, we usually laugh at their jokes, even when they’re not funny.

But when someone is trying to remain at arm’s length, they often don’t laugh.


Because when we laugh, it means we like the person we’re with, and if they’re acting distant towards you, then they clearly don’t want to give off a vibe that suggests they like you.

No doubt it sucks. After all, when you make a joke and the other person doesn’t react, it can hurt your feelings.

But that’s what happens when someone is keeping you at arm’s length. They’re not ready to show their interest or build rapport with you so they likely won’t laugh at your jokes.

2. They never ask you out

The simple truth is this:

When we have free time, we want to see the people we like.

But an obvious sign someone is keeping you at arm’s length is if they never invite you to go out.

Over time, the two of you are going to get closer, and if they seem to be resistant to the idea, it might be because they’re afraid of opening up and getting hurt.

So they’ll never ask you on a date if you’re a potential romantic interest, or a casual chit-chat if you’re a potential friend.

And when you ask them out, they’ll politely say no and act like it’s no big deal.

3. They never get close enough for you to touch

Our bodies tell us who we like (and don’t like.)

If someone wants a relationship with you, it’s likely that their body will give signs that point in that direction.

They’ll try to get close to you, subtly touch you on the arm as they’re talking, and face their body towards you.

But if someone is trying to keep you at arm’s length, they’ll never give you those little touches.

They’ll maintain space between you, even if it means turning their entire body to face away from you.

4. They have an incredibly busy schedule

One of the signs someone is keeping distance between the two of you is if they always seem to be too busy to hang out.

This is another sign that they don’t want you to get too close.

People who want a relationship or who want to make a new friend will leave time to hang out with you, even if they’re busy.

After all, relationships require effort.

If you want a relationship with someone, you have to put in the effort of developing rapport and building a connection.

But if they are always busy, or overprotective of their time, it’s likely that they’re avoiding taking risks and getting too close.

5. They don’t reveal much about themselves

If someone doesn’t want you to get too close, they won’t tell you much about themselves.

They’ll also be stingy on the details of their lives, and vaguely answer questions about their past.

Of course, everyone has a few secrets they don’t like talking about.

And some people are naturally quiet people who don’t share much personal information with anyone.

But if someone is keeping you at arm’s length, they’ll tend to avoid talking about themselves.

On the other hand, why don’t you ask yourself how much you’re revealing about yourself?

Believe it or not, it turns out that often we chase an idealized image of someone and build up expectations that are guaranteed to be let down.

But focusing on the relationship you have with yourself might help you to find the truth about love and become empowered.

I learned about this after watching this mind blowing free video from the renowned shaman Rudá Iandê. 

Rudá’s teachings helped me realize that many of us are actually self-sabotaging our love lives without realizing it. And if you think they don’t reveal anything to you, you might be doing the same.

That’s why I recommend watching his free masterclass and receiving insights about your love life.

Click here to watch the free video.

6. They don’t ask you many questions about yourself

Some cold-hearted people only care about what they can get out of you.

They’re not interested in your life. So it’s a sign that they’re keeping you at arm’s length if they don’t ask you many questions.

In general, it’s a good idea to pay attention to how many questions each person asks during a conversation.

The more questions someone asks about you, the more interested in you that person is.

And if someone seems to be asking only a few questions, it might be because they’re not very interested in you or they’re keeping a safe distance.

7. They don’t make you feel special

If they’re keeping you at arm’s length, they won’t make an effort to compliment you or make you feel special.

Instead, they will be distant. They might even make you feel like you’re bothering them.

But if they’re interested in you, they’ll make an effort to show it. They’ll want to spend time with you and most importantly, make you feel good and comfortable in their presence.

8. They don’t plan a future with you

If someone is interested in a romantic relationship with you, it’s likely that they’ll plan a future with you.

They’ll talk about where the two of you are going next weekend, or what the two of you might do after dinner…they’ll ask about your plans for the future and give their advice on how to achieve them.

People who are keeping you at a distance won’t talk about the future.

This is because they’re worried you’ll get closer and then dump them.

So they’ll focus on the here and now, not the future. The future is too scary to think about, because it involves commitment.

And they don’t want any of that.

9. They’re afraid of getting into a fight with you

When we want to be with someone, we’re willing to fight for the relationship.

But someone who’s keeping you at arm’s length doesn’t want a battle. They just want it to be easy.

Despite what you may think, getting in an argument with someone actually means you care.

That’s why arguing with your partner can sometimes be a good sign.

But if they’re keeping you at arm’s length, they don’t want to work hard for the relationship or put in any real effort.

They just want something that goes well for them, and then they’ll disappear, never to return again.

10. They don’t show affection

When we want to be romantically involved with someone, we want to show them our affection.

Someone who’s keeping you at arm’s length doesn’t like to do this because they feel too vulnerable and unsure of themselves.

So they’ll keep their distance, and if you get close, they might push you away. Of course, everyone needs some space to breathe sometimes. And of course, everyone needs a certain amount of time to get comfortable with a new person.

But if you’ve been getting close for a while, and the other person is still keeping their distance, it might be because they don’t want you to date you or get closer to you.

11. You feel an intense sense of disappointment around them

If someone is keeping you at arm’s length, it’s going to hurt you a lot.

You’ll feel disappointed and rejected, especially if you really liked this person. But being hurt by someone who doesn’t want you isn’t a bad thing. If anything, it’s a good sign!

It means that it was unlikely that the two of you were well matched in the first place. It means that there was something wrong with you.

You must have done something to make the other person not want to be close with you.

And it’s probably best if you learn from this experience so that you won’t ever get hurt or disappointed by someone who doesn’t want to get close to you.

If a person is keeping you at arm’s length, they might be telling you that they don’t want to date or get emotionally involved with you.

12. They don’t want you to get too close

If someone keeps you at arm’s length, they don’t want to get close.

They’re afraid of making a commitment if you get too close. They’re also afraid of what will happen if they start caring about you.

There is something that they are wary about so they are keeping you at arm’s length.

So if someone keeps you at arm’s length, it might be because they don’t want to deal with the risks and complications that come with an intense emotional connection.

They’re not interested in relationships, so they keep their distance.

How to deal with someone who is keeping you at arm’s length

Now the question is:

How should you react if someone is keeping you at arm’s length?

Let’s go through a few tips:

1. Respect their need for space

The truth is:

When someone is keeping you at arm’s length, there is a reason. You may not know the reason, but there is one – and it’s important to respect that.

Don’t interpret their behavior as an insult to your character.

Don’t think they are trying to push you away. Simply leave them alone when they want space – and let them get in touch with you when they wish to talk.

2. Ask how they’re feeling

This isn’t always going to work, but sometimes, the reason people keep you at arm’s length is that they have an emotional issue that they’re sensitive about.

Let’s say someone is keeping you at arm’s length because they are coming to terms with a difficult issue.

This issue may or may not be directly related to you, but it might make it hard for them to connect with you.

If this is the case, ask them how they’re feeling – if they’ll let you in on what the issue is, wonderful.

If not, there’s no need to worry and get angry. Simply be patient and eventually they might come around.

3. Tell them you want to support them

If you want to see the person again, tell them you want to support them in dealing with their issue.

You say “I want to support you” and let them know how:

– You understand
– You’re here for them
– You care about what’s going on for them and are here if they need someone to talk to

But if the issue is something about you, or about something that you did, then there might not be much that you can do besides offering your support and apologizing.

4. Don’t blame them too much

Sometimes people do keep people at arm’s length because of issues that are completely out of their control.

They may have a deep emotional connection to someone else, and even though they love you, they don’t want to come between you two.

Don’t take this personally – it’s not about you and it doesn’t mean that the other person doesn’t love you.

5. Offer to do specific things for them

If you really want to reconnect with the person, suggest doing something specific – like a specific task they’d particularly like to do with someone else.

You offer to do the task and see if they’re okay with it. If they are, great. Even better if you can help them get through their issue faster by giving them some company or a little support along the way.

Or you can ask for advice on a specific work issue you have.

It could be any problem, but asking for their advice is a great way to open up a conversation and make them feel good for helping you.

6. Be there when they’re ready to talk

If the reason a person is keeping you at arm’s length is that they don’t think they’re ready to talk, it’s important to respect that and not push them.

When they’re ready to be in a conversation, they’ll let you know, and then you can start working on that issue.

And if they’re not ready, then it’s probably best not to start a conversation.

Instead, you can be there for them when they’re ready to talk.

7. Build trust slowly and gently

It’s important that you don’t push someone who is keeping you at arm’s length too fast – it just might scare them off and make them want to move further and further away from you.

If you’re too assertive, pushy or demanding, this might make them feel overwhelmed and cause them to retreat even more.

Instead, take small steps and be gently assertive rather than aggressive.

8. Be patient

The truth is: you may never know what the underlying reason for the person’s behavior is until they are ready to open up about it. And that might feel like a very long time.

But try to be patient and let them know that you are there for them – even if they don’t want to talk.

This way, when they’re ready to open up, they will know that you’re there – and perhaps more open to talking.




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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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